It’s happened to nearly everyone: Our credit or debit card is lost or stolen, and then we find fraudulent charges on our account. And the Covid crisis has unfortunately made fraud even more common. But the theft of your card or bank information doesn’t mean you’re on the hook for all the losses. On the contrary, in the vast majority of cases, you’re entitled to a refund of almost all fraudulent charges. Here are the basic steps you should understand to get as much of your money back as possible.



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Credit or Debit?

Whether to pay with debit or credit is an age-old question that depends upon multiple factors. Generally speaking, if you have good credit management skills and pay-off your cards on time every month, you should pay with credit as often as possible, in order to enjoy cash back, points and other rewards. From a safety perespective, however, this can expose you to more instances of identity theft, since many credit card purchases are online, or in public shopping areas, where such theft is more common.

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On the other hand, debit is best used when you have credit management challenges, for bill pay (where credit is not an option),  or other automatic payments withdrawn from your checking account. Using debit to make online purchases exposes you to many of the same risks as credit. However, for in-person purchases, debit may be somewhat safer, since PIN numbers are usually required, adding an extra layer of protection.

The caveat, though, is that if your debit card information is successfully stolen and used, you may expose your entire banking relationship – including potential access to other accounts you may have with your bank.

In either case, the absolute first step you should take if your